Designer Cufflinks, Simplicity: the Simon Carter Equation

By: Patrick McMurray

Simon Carter is considered one of Britain's premier men's fashion accessories designers. He holds his position steady in an increasingly competitive market, which was, until recently undersupplied. Things have certainly changed, now us chaps are getting the choice and variety we demand, new, exciting and refreshing cufflink designs that we actually want to wear.

Simon Carter has enjoyed a steady stream of success with his distinctive styling. In the 80's and 90's he introduced fresh and exciting designs that revolutionised the men's accessories market, which had long been stagnant.

His company began selling pewter brooches for men but really found its niche when it began selling cufflinks. He combined in his designs semi precious stones, complimented by other organic materials like Paua shell from the far away shores of New Zealand. Symmetrically divided by thin strips of metal they resemble art deco architectural embellishments, while other designs maintain more simple form using cat's eye in subtle pastel colours of blues and pinks.

In the mid-1990s the company opened its own showroom and shop in London's West End. International sales also began to take off, with agents appointed to sell Simon Carter products in the U.S., Canada, Japan and Australia. Today, the accessories (which include watches, cufflinks, ties, luggage, small leather goods and pens) are carried in some of the most exclusive department stores and independent retailers in 35 countries around the world, including Selfridges, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Takashimaya, Bloomingdales and David Jones.

Early 2002 saw Simon Carter branch out to include a menswear line. From the start, the range proved very popular and the collection is now stocked in House of Fraser, Selfridges, Moss Bros, Fenwicks, Brown Thomas (Ireland), GB Place (Japan) and David Jones (Australia).

Dressing The West Ham Football team and actor Will Smith propelled him onto the intentional stage. Other windows of opportunity opened more recently when, Simon Carter signed a clothing and franchise agreement for Japan with Japanese company, BBS. The five year deal covers designing, manufacturing and distribution of a clothing range in Japan and the opening of stand-alone stores in Tokyo and Osaka.

Simon's boldness in the face of conservatism has been the hallmark of his success. He took notice of customers' demands and responded accordingly. Subsequently, he enjoys strong sales and continuing growth.

Now we wait in great anticipation for the next range of designer cufflinks.

And a closing anecdote: The resurgent popularity of cufflinks in recent years inspired businessman Claude Jeanloz to open The Cufflink Museum in Conway, New Hampshire, in the late 1990's. Jeanloz, who obtained his first pair as a confirmation gift from his godmother, began collecting cufflinks in the mid 1960s. After amassing a large number of them, he decided to establish the Cufflink Museum, which features over 70,000 pairs on display in 10,000 square feet - by far the largest collection in the world. Also on display are cufflink memorabilia such as vintage cufflink ads, photos and even album covers featuring performers wearing cufflinks like The Beatles and Bob Dylan, 'did you say Bob Dylan'?

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